GOOD TIDINGS AND ADAPTING

Thank heavens!  It’s a New Year and a  a new beginning.       Here’s to all the good that portends.

Salish greeter in robe or nifty sweater says, “Hi!” I’m glad we met.

Good news is we’ve made it this far.  We just need to get through the next two weeks of muzzling a crazed loser and his dangerously demented followers, after which civility and competence will again be in charge.  For other millions who are not awful, though often wrong — and sometimes LOUD, there is always valued space at the table for reasonable differences with good governance.  Until then, how about one more listen to Leonard Cohen’s Democracy Is Comin’ to the USA. 

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But the good news remains: OUR CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE CHANGED!   Welcome to Joe, Kamala, and Georgia Senators.  And if it’s not yet time to smell the roses, it is time to start remembering what the roses look like.  For sure they look like good people doing good things, like the Wakemans taking time to tend the sheep on nearby, otherwise uninhabited Maine islands.  What an upper this article and great pictures is.  Raised in small town North Dakotan, I first met  an island, Baker, in Maine, off Acadia in 1971.  It was love at first footfall on the rocks. I spent some of three summers on Monhegan, and  I might be there still, but I came to learn that rocky trails and cane-supported, increasingly awkward walkers do not mix.  Thus it was that in 1979, I “found Tenants Harbor”, — an island-like peninsula with the Mainers of my dreams and Roseledge cottage — the place and people of my heart for nearly 40 years.  What wonderful “rosy” rlated memories the island sheep-tending article evoked.  But less rosy is remembering that, as on Monhegan, there are limits  that even a willing and able adapter finally has to face to live in a rustic cottage surrounded by uneven, sometimes rocky, largely undiscovered terrain.

So I, very grudgingly, sold Roseledge.  Louis Jenkins hit it spot on in his poem, Football:  

I take the snap from the center, fake to the right, fade back…
I’ve got protection. I’ve got a receiver open downfield…
What the hell is this? This isn’t a football, it’s a shoe, a man’s
brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same
skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air.
I realize that this is a world where anything is possible and I
understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one
has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn
syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they
weren’t very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man
downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities,
one has to make choices. This isn’t right and I’m not going
to throw it. [Emphasis added.]

So it was that I learned adapting, like reading, had changed from being a hobby to being a way of life.  And now that I’m thinking about being adaptable, I find examples of it everywhere.  One such is Tara French’s The Searcher, which is a novel about a retired cop from Chicago who buys a fixer-upper in the rural west of Ireland.  Both how he adapts as a newcomer and how he adapts his official cop skills to a local problem are key.  From the title I knew I would enjoy Tara French’s book, just as, years ago, I enjoyed Naguib Mahfouz’s book, The Searcher, which was about his search for his father.  I liked his Cairo trilogy more though.  Several other “adapting books” come to mind:  Fishing with John by Edith Iglauer, Frankie’s Place by Jim Sterba, or Lilian Beckwith’s “semi-autobiographical novels set in the Hebrides. 

Wooden, eye-height railings require x- ray vision. Working on it

As a long-time major adapter, I have two major enablers:  Charlie, who re-engineers my world to keep me more independent and sassy longer, and Kathy, who keeps me on top of all that matters and fuss free.  Charlie humphs.  He thinks I still fuss.

Charlie helped me turn a great idea, a prairie twig tree, into a Christmas twig tree, which might have won the Best of Floor prize if Mary hadn’t used her end of the hall site for her life-sized, stuffed Santa to sit in a real rocker, by a faux fireplace.  So I turned the Christmas twig tree into a winter twig tree with a faux snowflake tree alongside, but Charlie said “Enough!” when I asked him to fluff the flake-flowers into a ball.  I’m already thinking candy hearts for Valentine Day, but I’m keeping it to myself, for now.

Winter twig tree has memorable, if unfluffed, snowflake-flower tree near.

Kathy knows there are few jigsaw puzzles of a leas 350 pieces that fit the 10″x 20″ lazy-susan top and table that Charlie re-configured for me, so she found and forwarded an           online puzzle site with lots of choices, no pieces to reach for or pick up and lots of shadow-people applauding.  I love it, especially the applause.  It’s easy to play on my Charlie-adapted computer.  Charlie says I’m addicted and neglecting my blog.  He’s not wrong, but   I have no shame.  And you can make a puzzle from your own pictures, which Charlie did.

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A rose by any other name is a NYTimes  information article by Farhad Manjoo.  Today he offers a really good and readable explanation of QANON, and why we should be wary, watchful, maybe worried by it’s insidiousness.  I needed this because I am so not in that silo or bubble or whatever one’s information environment is called,  but no matter the topic, Farhad Manjoo is always worth a read.  ( Note:  This article mattes more  after Wednesday’s insurrectionist melee in Washington D.C.) Equally rose worthy is any NYTimes Science article by Siobhan Roberts, but I like especially those linked to John Conway.  I started reading this one not knowing what his Game if Life was and ended up trying to find the documentary about it that he narrated.                                  Herein, the Game’s  50th birthday celebration lead to  the following thoughts:                               a)”I was hooked [by] watching complexity rise out of simplicity.”(Brian En0)   This may help to explain my preference for daily-ness over abstraction in poetry, e.g. Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “Possibilities.”                                                                                                  b) “[As]  John Allen Paulos so eloquently said, ‘Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.””(Melanie Mitchel)  Maira Kalman, in her memoir, The Principles of Uncertainty, agrees, I think. So do I.                c) “[Game of Life] is the purest example I know of the dynamics of collective human innovation.” (Stephen Wolfram)  And doesn’t the world need humans working together to see, then ask, the questions and search for answers?  Yes it does, but who is best to do that?  Well. you don’t have to be a philosophy major to know how to ask questions, or a librarian to know how to find an array of answers, but maybe it helps.  Hint, hint.


That’s it until next time, which I am going  to try to post every other Friday.  I’ll have my latest, favorite, jigsaw puzzle report then.

Charlie won’t set my hair on fire. I’ll find better lighting and fuss. Good days and better tomorrows are coming. Join us in making them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COVID DAYS: EVEN NOW, MANY THANKS

O HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

Most significantly, I am thankful for the half of the voters who gave us a generous future and for the other half who, but for a few, didn’t try to kill our democracy.

I am hugely relieved that we we are going to go — eventually — with Joe.  (Refs:  BIDEN BEATS TRUMP! (NY Times)  and WHEW!  (From Scott, who, like the NYTimes crossword puzzle people, misspelled the word as “PHEW!“, but with either of which sentiments, whew’s release of inner tension, or phew’s relief or fatigue, I heartily agree.    (Source: WikiDiff.)  Hard to justify including the following poems here, but I like them, it’s my blog, and I thought the poet might be related to Helene Hanff, whom I love, but she’s not, “ARE YOU AWAKE?” and “WOW!” are “lead-line” poems by Jean Hanff Korlitz from unadulterated Trump campaign emails. Clever idea, bit snarky.)

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Then it seemed like the worst of times.  Trump won’t concede, which is horrible all by itself.  Then, I read that half the voters wanted to continue the catastrophe that is the last four years.  AARRGGHH!  Who knew the greed, the hate, and the disdain for reason, democracy, and others were so much among us?

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But then, my ever hopeful friends, midst the pandemic, awful Trump Tweets, the slowing of an already damaged economy, the weather extremes, the coming flu season, ill-equipped schools, shrinking worldview, fraying tempers, and invading murder hornets, but then, my friends some glimmers gleam.  

 Thanks for neighbors and information technology and, always, good ideas. (Beyond Zoom, information technology for which I am very grateful, even as my tonsure grows,  think convolutional neural network tracking.)

Thanks for “legacy media”, for keeping reliably good information moving, especially  the Wall Street Journal editors who kept Hunter Biden’s unworthy emails from taking up newsworthy space and the NYT reporters who wrote about it.

Thanks for considerations of  trees, always a gleaming glimmer. Puzzle: Is it always a good time to think about trees, or does thinking about trees make it a good time?  How about making  good memories? From my perch on Roseledge’s porch, I listened long, often, and carefully to see if I could distinguish the types of trees from the sounds of leaves rustling.  After several summers, I could distinguish between cottonwoods and maples, and I knew when the rustling trees were neither.  Too little for two much, you think?  Then your interior life is, clearly, insufficiently rich.

More recently, I walked along Ballard streets with mostly leafless trees, beautiful in their structures, and discovered a found-art tree with fish.

Think Ballard:  found art, trees with or without fish, near dry-docked boats.  Perfect.

For more tree pondering and a shout-out to libraries, love with me Maira Kalman’s paintings of trees and Leanne Shapton’s Sunday walks with trees or, more accurately, tree trunks, sans mention of libraries.  I also love her book, Native Trees of Canada, wherein each page is a leaf from a different kind of tree.  With the book on a bookstand, I turn to a different page each month and enjoy — God and Charlie willing.  Sometimes a miracle would be the faster.

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Thanks for Kindle and the 1-click buying option, which I use a lot and Charlie threatens to dismantle.  I promise to talk more, and the threats are no more.  Whew.

Rule for reading during COVID stay at-home times:                                            Every book of careful reading deserves 4-6 books of comfort reading.

Currently am reading carefully:                                                                                                      Bernard  Bailyn’s Illuminating History: A Retrospective of Seven Decades is, according to his NYTimes obit “an intellectual self-portrait that eschews conventional memoir in favor of a series of essays.”  Historian Bailyn explains why each of seven documents interests him and how he uses that interest to further his work.  So far, good search parts, but mostly exciting for watching an idea happen, take root,  and grow.

Currently have read, am reading, or will soon to read less carefully:                                            Brad Park’s Interference is a mystery involving several physics professors, Dartmouth, and quantum mechanics.  I liked it and learned from it, much as I did from Michael Crichton’s Timeline.

Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club is set in a retirement community with residents who interact with each other and the world.  Th book is gentle, generous, good-natured, and sometimes funny, but I was bored and stopped halfway through.  I live the book and would rather learn about new things.

Peter Colt’s Back Bay Blues is small town New England noir, reminiscent of the Tom Selleck/Jesse Stone TV adaptations of books by Robert B. Parker.  I liked the book and learned a lot from the Vietnam War vet thread.

Elly Griffith’s The Lantern Men is her 12th book in the forensic anthropologist Dr. Ruth Galloway series.  I love them all.  Pure comfort reading.

Paul Doiron’s  The Last Lie explores Maine’s north woods, yet another part of Maine I know too little about.  He knows well the outdoor terrain and understands it’s people.  I especially liked traipsing about the landscape with the knowledgeable author

Scott Carpenter’s French Like Moi reports this college professor’s time renting a Paris apartment.  From Kathy’s comments, the tone and adventures sound like those in Nicolas Kilmer’s A Place in Normandy, which I loved and during which he was deciding whether or not to spend the money and make habitable the very old farmhouse his grandfather had bought in 1920.  So I am hopeful.

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Thanks again, and always, for good times with Charlie, who, again, declared me a difficult person.  And this was before we wore masks that hugged my eyelashes with each sidewalk bump, of which there are many, and, thus blinded, I was about to cause a disaster and become a public disgrace, and so called,  “Charlie, HELP!” which he did and always does, sometimes with a  VERY LOUD “[sigh]” “tsk tsk” or “Again?”

Finally, thanks for everything better that is just ahead and now possible to expect. 

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NEWSPAPER FOLLOW-UP, QANON MOSTLY

It’s best to read yesterday’s post first because this one mostly builds on QAnon comments therein.  Herein, I am quoting at length from Farhad Manjoo’s NYT article because I worry that my links don’t always go through, and no one says it better than Farhad Manjoo.  I like his sources, too.  So, onto his latest QANON comments.

First, a bit about why we should worry about QANN:

Farhad Manjoo talked about QAnon with “Joan Donovan, a pioneering scholar of misinformation and media manipulation [who] is very worried.  [She studies] the way that activists, extremists and propagandists surf currents in our fragmented, poorly moderated media ecosystem to gain attention and influence society,…  [but especially to reach] “people who have been ‘Q-pilled,’ QAnon plays a much deeper role in their lives; it has elements of a support group, a political party, a lifestyle brand, a collective delusion, a religion, a cult, a huge multiplayer game and an extremist network….”

Then, a bit about how QANON morphs and spreads, which is necessary to understand in order to diminish it:

“Donovan thinks QAnon represents a new, flexible infrastructure for conspiracy. QAnon has origins in a tinfoil-hat story about a D.C.-area pizza shop, but over the years it has adapted to include theories about the “deep state” and the Mueller probe, Jeffrey Epstein, and a wild variety of misinformation about face masks, miracle cures, and other hoaxes regarding the coronavirus. QAnon has been linked to many instances of violence, and law enforcement and terrorism researchers discuss it as a growing security threat….  ‘[QANON] is now a densely networked conspiracy theory that is extendible, adaptable, flexible and resilient to take down,’ Donovan said of QAnon.”

VERY SCARY STUFF!   What to do?  When in doubt, I VOTE AND HOPE AND PLAN!

I vote, you vote, we all vote and democracy lives.  BLUE WAVE ALERT

To be fair or maybe to be an idiot, I should note that in the Manjoo article, “Donovan compares QAnon to the Rev. Charles Coughlin, the priest whose radio show spread anti-Semitism in the Depression-era United States. Stopping Coughlin’s hate took a concerted effort,…”

FULL DISCLOSURE:  My dad was Charles J[ohn] Coghlan [hard “g”], a good and generous man, who had not a bigoted bone in his body.  On at least one occasion, he did sign a Father Coughlin picture,  but, he didn’t look anything like the priest, and he signed as he was, Charles J. Coghlan.  My dad was an amiable man, former Wahpeton mayor, and soon thereafter, a Richland County Commissioner. Thus, like his four uncles who served in the ND state legislature and his dad who was mayor of St. John, Chair of the Board of Education, and founder of the local chapter of the Isaac Walton League, he served though elective office.  I don’t know who some people thought they were voting for, but if they voted for Charles J. Coghlan, a father only to his family, they got the best.

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COVID OR N0: READING, PART 1, NEWSPAPERS

It’s a little exciting.

Two of you asked what I have been reading during COVID.  Among my faithful readers, two requesters is Legion.  So this is a little exciting.  But let’s face it: COVID or not, I read a lot. I’ve always read a lot.  A high school friend, Shirley with whom I had not spoken for more than 30 years, called to tell me about our friend Gayle’s death.  Then, because, she said, she knew I would be, she asked, “What are you reading?” and we had a great good time reminiscing and re-connecting through book-talk. Reading is my way of life. 

 Getting a grip on my enthusiasm,  I am separating reading newspapers from books, even though it is not a clean break. Newspapers are a lifelong pleasure, my tether to the greater world, a place of surprise.  They can cover anything, and sometimes do.  But be prepared for my choices, as you are in the company of one who has “information eyes.” 

Here I am in Maine, with hair, reading newspapers. Millie says, “Classic.”

ARTCLES

In “The code: how genetic  science helped expose a secret coronavirus outbreak [in Iowa]”,  Paraic Kenny, a tumor geneticist turned viral geneticist, became a disease detective, a genome tracker, in fact, a genetic epidemiologist.  Its all searching to me, and I have loved searchers, strategies, or search results and reports  forever.  Now I’ll add tracking, investigating, even detecting, and become an “information epidemiologist”.  See?  Exciting!  And what’s up with Iowa and secrets?  That’s just plain un-Midwestern-ness.     

I came across another  timely “case study” of information tracking titled   “How sexist, racist, attacks on Kamala Harris spread online.”  I read this  and learned of too many [massive sigh]  social media sources I’ve never met, but which, when distributed, include the concepts of “spread” and “influence” and “sequence” which I do know [whew!].

Now it’s QAnon I don’t get.  It promotes a conspiracy of drivel, amorphously,  without rhyme or reason or structure — at least to me.  I don’t know what or who it is or how it’s information spreads, changes, infects or influences. I do wonder how so many naive  people could have so much easy access to dangerous nonsense  and so little ability to recognize the nonsense.  Doing my best to thwart this pestilence by knowing more about QAnon’s paths to the gullible, I read recently and recommend: How QAnon is spreading during the pandemic...”, and  “Following Falsehoods–A Reporter’s Approach….”

Here I am in Seattle, reading the New York Times…uh, differently.

Too much?  Well, I warned you about reading with an “info nerd,” Barb’s wonderful name for a group I want to be part of.  Just to remind you all of my very useful liberal arts degree, I read a VERY interesting wide-ranging article  about Edward Hopper’s early work.  As re-envisioned by a grad student in art history who found old magazines for amateur artists which had some pictures the adolescent Hopper copied for his early paintings.  So given his copying, is Hopper less a teenage genius that gave meaning to “American-ness?”  Is there even such a distinction as “American-ness”?  With that, I’m enjoying a few minutes of canal watching, a mug of vegetable broth, and remembering American Studies’ friends.

Somewhat similarly, I am newly sitting in Seattle and wondering if there is such a thing as a Midwestern sense of humor.  I cracked a really funny joke in the poetry group ( Robert Frost transgendered as Roberta ?), and only the physicist/jazz pianist, who had to find an aide to make his laptop stop playing a song he had brought to illustrate a point at an earlier meeting, only he got it, — finally.

And my spidey senses must have been on high alert when I decided to read about James Murdoch, Rupert’s younger son who has left the fold because he has a brain and principles and decided instead to invest “in start-ups created to combat fake news and the spread of disinformation, having found the proliferation of deep fakes ‘terrifying’ because they ‘undermine our ability to discern what’s true and what’s not’ and it ‘is only at the beginning as far as I can tell.”   Where we you James Murdoch all those years I was always looking for funding for my next project?  AARRGGH!

NY Times PUZZLES:

I still think there might be number patterns in Sudoku (Charlie says there aren’t), and I still don’t like the Thursday NYT crossword, though I did “get” the last two rebuses.  And Rex Parker’s blog remains a vent-worthy read.

NY Times COLUMNISTS:

My list of favorites grows:  Gail Collins, smart, bit snarky, good natured, usually politics;  Paul Krugman, broadly-read and -interested economist;  Thomas Friedman, Middle East thinker about actions, connections, and implications (I also like novels by Daniel Silva and David Ignatius), and he, like Al Franken and the Coen brothers, is from Minneapolis-plus; Timothy Egan, usually writes about the West but I’ll read anything he wants to write about, and… he lives in Seattle; most recent  fav Siobhan Roberts, writes interestingly and knowingly about math, surely a miracle;  and Farad Manjoo and, until the Atlantic “contracted” her away, Zeynep Tufecki both of whom write broadly and knowingly  about information matters. 

WHEW!  Enough.  Be ready for more joy and curse of newspaper reading.

 

 

 

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COVID 6: SORT OF HAIKUS

SORT OF HAIKUS, always 17 syllables, or

HOW I SPEND MY VIRAL CONTAGION

1.  The lobby statue / sits with ears up, moving eyes, / and masked m-utterings.
2.  It’s a statue. It’s / a bot. No; it’s a chair-full / of performance art.
3.  Flowers flourish. Some / tending, no trimming. Mother / Nature dresses up.
4.  Bistro coffee is / gone. Charlie’s bittery blend / makes me twittery.
5.  Today we can go / outside again, but it is / raining and cold. Sigh.
6.  Masks take away lip / reading, a big loss for those / who need it to hear.
7.  YOU TUBE’s vinyard sheep / by day; BBC radio / all night Soothers.
8.  No mask. VIOLATION! / Too close. VIOLATION! / Too far. VIO…punch!
9.  Hall walkers think we baa, /  like sheep, or “drop [gaseous, / disastrous] roses”.           10. My apartment door / always stays open, so I /can always get out.

The Good Life: Kindle-d book, filled mug, outdoors near, CHARLIE here, old friends’ ties.

11. Pier beckons. Wheel / chair totes new flag lawn-chair, so / Charlie can sit, too.
12. Charlie says I’m a /  very difficult person. / Goodness knows, I try.
13. Nothing will ever / be the same again, but then / it never was. Sigh.
14. No groups, no outsiders, / delivered meals. / Wear masks, scrub hands often.
15. Deaf-ish, masked colleagues / eat breakfast and talk six feet / apart. It’s loud.                           “WHAT?”
16. With long life, some wisdom, / and 20/20 vision, / we shout, GO, JOE!
17. People meets are few. / Roof seagull “soaps” are many.  I watch. I’m so hooked.
18. Charlie and I read / newspapers differently. / He is good company.
19. My wheelchair could / tote golf-bag and drinks on course / paths. Ready, Charlie?
20. Honeycrisp, I’m over you. / It’s Envy now, / until Cosmic Crisp comes.                              21.  VOTE HIM OUT!        VOTE HIM / OUT!        VOTE HIM OUT!        VOTE                  HIM OUT! / VOTE HIM OUT!      VOTE!        VOTE!

I’ve doodled all my days.  Does that make it a way of life? Or worse, a way of thinking?  Can you imagine an epitaph worse than, “She thought in 17-syllable ideas?”  Probably more, later.

 

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COVID 5: DAY BRIGHTENERS

It’s a dark, very dark day…  Charlie says the apocalypse is upon us; the viral and wildfire smokey particulates are winning.  Disaster Trump  lurks.  And wonderful RBG dies.  I call it the big unpleasantness, because I am his mother.                                                 …but then a gleam of bright right happens.  Looking out our view-full window, we see the Yacht Club-boat with tugboat float by, on it’s  way to be tended.  We waved.  Surely, they smiled.

We waved.  Slight breeze.  Boat people waved.  Tugboats made waves.  Wavelets danced.  No wake.                   (Photo: Mike Siegel/Seattle Times)


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If you, as I, think  Trump was elected and still has a chance to be re-elected because too few people know how to tell sense from nonsense, then, if ever, it is time to act.  A read or re-read of The Thread: A Mathematical Yarn by Philip J. Dorian will remind you of how much fun and learning go into a search for information.  Josephine Tey’s mystery,  A Daughter of Time demonstrates the impact of poorly chosen sources.  Then it is time to act.

DAY DIMMERS are among us.  Social media and data science have made finding, choosing and using good sources harder, but… some just know too-little; others are outright info- sinners, e.g.,                                                                                                                      The mask-less who justify themselves with:  “God will protect me.”                                            The racism denier who argues: ” Nothing  has ever happened to me and I am a Latin American.”                                                                                                                                           The patient who disagrees with the MD’s diagnosis or treatment and argues:  “That’s not what it said on Facebook.”                                                                                                          Trump listing “his” “accomplishments”.                                                                                               Attorney General Barr who says that mail-in voting leads to fraud  and, when asked by a reporter why he thought fraud was involved, answered:  “Logic.”

But then,DAY BRIGHTENERS arrive.  HEADLINES say it all.                                         “Getting wise to Fake News [Misinformation on Social Media]” includes health information and online courses.                                                                                “Misinformation is ‘it’s own pandemic’ Among Parents“includes techniques for pushing back on social media and in person.                                                                                         “What I Learned From Trump’s Accomplishments:  Facts are vital.  But they are not sufficient” argues for context, with good examples.                                                                  Barr needs so much. Start with the common sense of logical argument needs evidence, e.g. sources, and bad sources will kill argument.  Then how about a day trip to the library where sources abound.

(Okay, I just wanted to sneak in the biggest Day Brightener Headline of all:  How Libraries Can Save the 220 Election, and the conclusion:  “It’s already clear that neither the president nor Congress nor the Postal Service will do what’s necessary to ensure the integrity of the 2020 election. The library, still among the most revered institutions in our fragile democratic experiment, may well be our best hope.”  YES!  But Barr does need sources, and libraries have lots of them.

So, social media and data science have made finding, choosing and using good sources harder, but..remote learning with it’s connecting capability may be a plus, maybe even a saving grace for those who want to know how to find good sources in today’s world of inter-connectivity, erased records, ever new technologies.

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WOEFUL DAY DIMMER:   It’s time to say goodbye to Roseledge.  The days of wine and roses, and blueberries, of morning coffee and pre-and post-dusk parties before the bats meet and eat the mosquitoes, of books and bookish-ness, of Sea Street strolls and harbor life and friends to share all this and more,  those days are over.    Thanks for the memories.  I have sold Roseledge to my neighbor who owns it’s frontage.  It’s time.

It’s true.  I sold Roseledge, place of my heart.  Blame my unwilling body.  (Photo by Charlie)

Un-rosed Roseledge morphs into white cottage-plus outbuilding on Sea Street.  (Photo by Ralph)

And no, I don’t know anything about the long, one-windowed, concrete block behemoth behind it.  Fun, but surely inappropriate, to speculate.  Probably not a “harbor” to store a replica of the medieval Irish boat that preceded the Viking voyages, but maybe.

DAY BRIGHTENER:  Charlie and I, with Scott’s help, are making a Roseledge documentary, ala Ken Burns.  Aim high, I say.   Surely, it will go through many iterations, as Charlie and I disagree, often, about who is in control.  He says I am a difficult person.  Goodness knows, I try.  I almost put myself to sleep on my first three-minute effort.  Being peppier might help.  AARRGGHH!  More later.

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COVID 19 NOTES 4, MORE DAY BRIGHTENERS

We were quarantined again.  Fortunately, Day Brighteners were not.  These are some of my favorites.

Forever lattes!  Charlie has a new phone which means that, with the Starbucks’ mobile app he can now upload, he can always pick-up lattes, even if the governor reverts to mega closings.  But he still won’t ask for extra hot and less foam on my order.  He says I am a difficult person.  It’s a mother’s gift and Charlie is a recurring Day Brightener. 

With selfie-apt phone, Charlie does exist and mom becomes background.  Sigh.

Visual sources alert!  We know too little about reading maps and appreciating multi-media news stories or Ken Burns’ documentaries.  Too few have read, and even fewer have appreciated, Edward Tufte’s books, e.g. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, or my personal favorite, Errol Morris’s Believing is Seeing.  Trump’s continuing show makes clear that too many people are still fooled by lies and the lying liars who tell them.  (Remember the magic marker hurricane map episode or the COVID incidence chart in his interview with the Australian reporter?) Visual literacy is a complex issue, sure, but two good starter-read Day Brighteners in yesterday’s NYT explain how to ‘read’ weather maps and how the NYT visual investigations team built a news story from mixed media.  The NYT online edition has great maps, complex charts, and photo essays, all good information sources just waiting to become evidence in someone’s better argument.

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Good ideas, good cheer!  A condo-dwelling retiree, who walks, likes to garden,  and was looking for a project, saw  big, healthy lawns, surely just waiting to become a flower business.  She chose yards, interviewed owners, planted, then tended, seeds and voila! Her cut flowers for sale in two stores.  She even had a mini-CSA of households who wanted a bouquet a week.  Such a good idea!  Okay, I may be drawn to her by memories of the Roseledge Books creation story which Charlie and I and Scott, my truth-in-telling rescuer, are trying to relive in a Ken Burns-ish adventure,  which makes it a double or triple Day Brightener.

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Screened window compromise. My floor to ceiling window may be the biggest Day Brightener of all, literally and figuratively.

Sunny day calls. Sheltered, in silhouette, I read and look. Hair tells all

All this reading called for discipline.  Too many comfort reads, mostly mystery series, do not a mind enliven.  So I began, and am continuing, a schedule of reading 10 to 25 percent of a thought-provoking book interspersed with old or potentially new favorites.  For instance, I have just finished Hope Jahren’s excellent The Story of More, interspersed with  Julia Spenser-Fleming’s Hid From Our Eyes, Joe Eid’s High Five, Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin (Next time, maybe I’ll try again a Tara French mystery.) and John Grisham’s Camino Winds.  I started Scott Turow’s  The Last Trial, but it was too textbook-ish.

Now I am reading Bernard Bailyn’s Illuminating History, a working memoir like Robert Caro’s Working, which I loved as a “how he did” the research for his bios of Robert Moses and now LBJ, which, so far, is 3 of 5 volumes and counting, and Robert Caro is 84 – and counting.  I am currently interspersing with Daniel Silva’s The Order because I needed to remember that we are one among others in a world of gray relationships, Paul Doiron’s One Last Lie (Maine),  Owen Laukkanen’s Lone Jack Trail (Olympic Peninsula)  Elly Griffith’s The Lantern Men (academics, so maybe also Julie Schumacher’s The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls), and who can resist a mystery by a Literature Nobelist?  So also included is Olga Tokarczuk Drive Your Plow Over Bones of the Dead.  Seven interspersers because Historian Bailyn “illuminates” seven historical documents.

Charlie is threatening to dismantle my Kindle 1-click ordering.  But he knows I would talk him to death if he did.  Every mother has her ways.

 

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COVID 19 NOTES,3

JUST IN: A COVID-maybe worker lurks and we are confined…again.              

The COVID comes, the COVID goes … up and down, but never away.  Sigh.

Life is Groundhog Day, temporarily sheltering (now,even more)-in-place  Thank heavens for Day Brighteners, like Tim Wu’s NYT op-ed that argues small flour mills may save our economy.   Then he highlights King Arthur and Maine Grains, which calls to mind my ND roots, always a happy thought.

Not to brag because that is unbecoming, but my Non-Partisan-League forbears, in order to make the world a better place for ND’ans and thwart the Minneapolis milling, banking and railroad robber barons, started the still existing State Mill And Elevator and the   ND State Bank, which was recently featured positively in the Washington Post.  A state railroad was planned, but I don’t think it was ever actually born.   My dad’s Coghlan family was politically involved e.g. mayor, county commissioner, 2 or 3 uncles in the state legislature.  Stories abound, and my uncle John, like my dad, a 3rd generation ND’an but not a Coghlan, tried to keep them honest.

So when in 1961 I received a generous wedding gift from Joe Coghlan and did not know who he was, dad said he was his uncle who had served in the ND state legislature.  Then he said, “He must be on the right side of the fence,” which I assumed meant he had switched political parties, but no.  As John explained, it meant he was out of prison.  Uncle Joe apparently defrauded the Federal government, which made him a kind of local hero.  Or so the family tells it.  John smiles.  Anyhow, my dad, uncle John, the Non Partisan League, and ND State Mill were all pluses in my world.  So you go, Maine Grains!

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Another Day Brightener  was the flag wrapped folding flag chair Charlie found on sale at Fred Meyer.  This means we can be Pier denizens longer and more comfortably as the other Pier sitters decide if we are Trump supporters, protesters, delayed hippies, or just people with a rolled-up chair in search of a fanny?

Action shot:  Watching geese moon us and poop at the same time.  I figure, and hope, it was a good, and rare, omen.  I should have looked away.

No, I am not waiting for Godot.  I AM waiting for Charlie to get a phone that can add a selfie stick so you will know we are both here and that  can add the app Starbucks requires when ordering a pick-up latte during the lock down.

Action shot: Going rogue patriotically or leading the attack on Albert, the junker, from Homer?

REALLY BIG Day Brightener is very  good news that the Pier will stay open after August for at least a time and maybe for always.  Suspect COVID delays are involved.  Here’s to Richard Fernandez, best project manager EVER.

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Susan, our ongoing Day Brightener, routinely hands out things to do.  The best so far, IMHO, is Book Bingo, a paper grid with topic boxes, e.g. travel, pets uplifting, in which we are to put summer reading choices.  Five filled boxes across or down means BINGO.

For fun, I filled them all with some title.  I learned that I had to stretch it for pets, animals, sci-fi / fantasy and myth / fable, reword some boxes, and add at least politics, law, occupations, economics, and other people/cultures.  I realized I have read a lot set in the Middle East, but almost none set in Europe.  Interesting tool to see if I remain one with my Liberal Arts world view.

For those of us who check out bookshelves wherever we are, and I suspect we are legion, especially now with mostly zoomed interviews, did you see on Tom Hanks’ shelves transcriptst of 70o hours of secret LBJ telephone recordings?  Is he getting ready for an LBJ biopic, with the tapes and Robert Caro’s person and books, neither of which I actually saw?

And finally, beautiful Vermont from a drone.  Always beautiful, but when looking at nature from a distance, patterns appear and suggest a learning different from a hiker’s, biker’s, or kayaker’s  appreciation.  Lovely, and, good for same ‘ol Groundhog days, engrossing.

And now I am off to the gym for one-on-one pulley work. GO LEFT SHOULDER, pull, pull. Then, with best intentions and some guilt (yes, shame still works), I will post again, sooner.  Yikes..

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COVID19 NOTES 2, PLUS

AVOIDING THE VIRAL CONTAGION LIFESTYLE NOTES:  We of the poetry group met  monthly to have fun with  favorite poems.  My choices always seemed to be better with a change or two.  For instance, Emily Dickinson’s poem “To Make a Prairie” reads more like a description of a bee frolicking in a clover-covered front yard with a wild rose bush and an Adirondack chair..  Good grief! No field or big sky or meadowlark in sight.  What is a child of North Dakota to do?  So I changed Emily Dickinson’s poem, though the scan is a tad off.  Maybe to subvert this contrariness, fearless leader Gary, asked us to ready a poem of our own, a limerick of 8 lines with 4 rhyming couplets, for the next time our group of 12 can meet and shout through masks from a proper social distance.  Here is my most appropriate, best and only effort so far:

MAY 2020

I used to go to Maine in May,                                                                                                             In time for the parade on Memorial Day.                                                                                      I’d open the bookstore for those who read                                                                                    And love the arguments wherever they lead.

Now I’m a Seattle-r trying to fit                                                                                                               With less-foamy lattes and the wit, I admit,                                                                                   Of Charlie’s gull-sqwacks and dog clipper cuts                                                                                  And with masks and Pier walks.  No COVID, not  nuts.

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So in the spirit of a Seattler-newbie during COVID, agreeing to anything to be outdoors, I am, with Charlie’s enthusiastic! efforts, using pier time to become aware of the local celebrities docked nearby.  Appreciating them is for another day.  So can you find the TV star in the pictures?  No fair if you watch “Deadliest Catch.”

Note the Northwestern, not my unfortunate COVIDian haircut.

See the distant Pinnacle. See me getting away from Charlie. Splash.

Albert, the junker, or happy-colored ketch? I’m masked, not napping.

The Pinnacle is handsomest, the sailboat most user friendly, and Albert the most promising do-over.  I especially like the tree, rooted in the residue of it’s past promise.  But the Northwestern is the star, according to Charlie, who occasionally watches it on “Deadliest Catch” and who likens it to George Clooney (!) for its endurance of 16 years a a star.  Maybe because the boat has aged well, too, but I doubt it.  Me?  The boat’s okay, but  I’m just happy on the pier.  That measured response should be good for another trip.  Meanwhile, my stars are down low.  You be you: gulls and ducklings and lapping, sparkly water.

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READ ING WITH A MASK: I’m currently reading Sara Paretsky’s latest mystery, Shell Game.  As usual, V.I. Warshawski is keeping Chicago’s powers-that-be, including politicians, on their toes, which is very satisfying these COVID and Trumpian days.  And adding to Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean, my intermittently read book that has, for Charlie, big boats doing dangerous things, my latest “in-between” book is Hope Jahren’s new book, The Story of More, which, even though it is about climate change and therefore COVID-pertinent, is engaging.  After reading her memoir, Lab Girl, which I loved, I am going to anticipate with pleasure anything Hope Jahren writes.  If you are a newbie, you might enjoy her recent NYT op-ed essay which is every person’s primer on a virus.  This makes mE think a list of favorite memoirs could be fun.

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Friend Susan brought me some fresh cherries which I love, but thought early for homegrown produce.  She apologized and said these were from California, which she hoped was okay until Washington cherries — which are, of course, very special — were ready.  This could so have been Scott reacting with a sniff to a gift of early, bigger blueberries by noting they were”high bush berries. from New Jersey.”  I miss Scott and Bobby, even without Virginia tomatoes and  Memorial Day in Maine.

 

 

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COVID19 NOTES 1, PLUS

We are one with “social distancing” and “shelter in place”, with boxed meals set outside the door, Charlie’s workshop masks at the ready, and my 2′ poker still good for pushing buttons and  better than anything else for keeping people at more than arm’s length.

Action Shot #16. Almost sightless, a hazard, but MASKED, I’m doing my part, Charlie says.

Well, goodness knows we’re trying.  No outsiders can come into our building, so Charlie brought his dog clipper over to cut my hair, tonsured as it has become.  He does not take suggestions for a more  subtle cut well.  He has upgraded my Internet, so I can become a proper Zoom-er.  No more my nattering away at statues, with an “unstable connection.”

The seagulls have returned, and  Charlie is trying to be one with them.  They bob and preen and pay no attention to his sqwaa-ck sqwa-a-ackng.  Neither do the invading pigeons.  But a  mezzanine lady shouted, “I wondered what kind of very big bird that was.” Hardly missing a sqwa-a-ack, Charlie called back, “I have a lot to learn.”

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Besides the COVID19-related news and great graphics of the online NYT, I’ve spent my pandemic reading articles that help me make some sense of the chaos engulfing the world.

Lawrence Wright’s NYT essay and his NY’er interview are both about his research for and writing of The End of October, his just published, prescient novel about a pandemic  that started with a virus in Asia.  I learned that from history and science, we should have been less surprised and more ready.

Orhan Pamuk’s NYT essay about the classics of pandemic literature is a great Cliff’s Notes, plus wise analysis.  I am glad for his list and lessons and someday, when we are not living in and through this, I may read these, but not now.

Stephen King gives a great interview to David Marchese, who asks great questions.  Interesting that Stephen King, who wrote about a pandemic in The Stand,  was most surprised at how fast everything changed in real life, and thought having food, not fear, is most worrisome.

Every time I hear Trump say we are battling an invisible foe, which, he implies, we therefore cannot know,  I silently shriek AARRGGHH! I recall  Stephen Greenblatt’s NY’er article about “invisible bullets” or the atoms that Lucretius understood were the pith of  epidemics and recoil at the ignorance currently in Power.  Then I read Tom Friedman’s conversation with Dov Seidman on leadership.  It  was a gift, wise and pertinent, and I can breathe again.

Wolf Kahn died and a fresh look at the vibrant colors of his outdoors makes sheltering-in-place in Spring a tad more tolerable.  So did the work of other artists who rendered views from their windows. And as I am profoundly one with my one room — and Charlie and a view of the Ship’s Canal — room-rating is fun, maybe more for the art and the color, though books on shelves are fun, if you can see the disheveled shelf of current reading.  And I love that while virtually testifyingDr. Fauci’s room rated a 10.  But then,  he’s an all-purpose 10 in my book.  (I found a picture of the room, but I couldn’t find the room-rating, which I know I did not make up, though I would have if I had thought of it.)

OTHERWISE, Hope Jahren, whose memoir, Lab Girl, is among my all-time favorites,  has new book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where We Go from Here.   It’s true; I’ll read anything she writes, but who better than a well-read, well-traveled paleo-botanist researcher and teacher to think about the future?  I’ve just started the book and it’s already good, but anticipation is much of the fun.

Will McGrath’s memoir, Everything Lost is Found Again: 4 Seasons in Lesotho was fun because friend Mary’s stories introduced me to Lesotho some years ago.  I loved living two places for 35 years and was probably predisposed to like this book, which I did, but then, there on the last line of the author’s acknowledgements was thanks to Bill and [my friend] Mary.  Next I have Bill Holm’s memoir of his life in Iceland, The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland. 

Action Shot #17. Charlie thinks we’re social-distancing, but I am going rogue. Hee-hee.

First freedom stop after sheltering-in-place is lifted a  bit: a latte — when the sun is out and umbrella-ed tables can be set far enough apart.  Until then, read about coffee in the world, especially the third paragraph from the end which notes  Todd Caspersen’s Equal Exchange coffee company and all they are doing right.  Spilling all: Todd is Millie’s son and one of Charlie’s almost cousins from Southeast Minneapolis. Best neighborhood ever.

And don’t miss the sheep in the vineyard on YouTube.  Six hours of pleasant.

 

 

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